Cate Blanchett no longer Lady Marmalade as star unloads $800,000 artwork

Have a spare $800,000 and a bitter taste in art? An artwork that has spent the past 22 years on the walls of a two-time Oscar winner could be yours.

Australian actor Cate Blanchett is selling a piece from the private art collection she has amassed with husband of 25 years, Andrew Upton, playwright and screenwriter.

Cate Blanchett at the 2023 Oscars.

Cate Blanchett at the 2023 Oscars.Credit: Invision

The work, Marmalade (1989-1990) by renowned Australian sculptor Rosalie Gascoigne, will be auctioned towards the end of the month, after spending the past two decades at the couple’s Sydney and UK residences.

Smith and Singer (formerly Sotheby’s Australia) expects it to sell for between $600,000 and $800,000 to a new Lady Marmalade, but chairman Geoffrey Smith says it could go for more.

“That estimate is based on comparable works by the artist that have sold in recent times … it does not factor in the provenance because who knows the value of that,” she said.

“I’m always fascinated by the provenance of a work of art, the history of ownership, and it’s particularly exciting that this work has been owned for more than 20 years by Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton who are in my opinion amongst Australia’s greatest creative forces … the provenance of a work of art certainly adds to the lustre.”

Rosalie Gascoigne’s artwork Marmalade.

Rosalie Gascoigne’s artwork Marmalade.

Made of yellow reflective road signs, Marmalade was privately acquired by Blanchett and Upton in 1999 from the Martin Brown Fine Art gallery in Sydney, and has never appeared for public sale before – but Blanchett says now it’s time to “let go” of the piece.

“We are only ever custodians of works of art and have relished the presence of Rosalie Gascoigne’s compelling and inspiring Marmalade in our lives for more than 22 years,” Blanchett said in promotional material spruiking the auction.

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“It is now time to let go and allow this work to find its next custodians, who will, we are certain, love it as much as we have.”

PEOPLE WITH GLASS DOORS

CBD notes University of NSW graduate, former opera singer and current chief executive of San Francisco-based company Glassdoor, Christian Sutherland-Wong, is beaming into his old stomping ground on Monday to inspire current UNSW students with the siren song of Silicon Valley.

Glassdoor is a site that hosts job listings, CEO ratings and, most deliciously and dangerously, anonymous workplace reviews by employees. For example, UNSW is reviewed as a place with nice colleagues and a flexible working environment. On the flipside, one reviewer writes their office hosts an “absolutely ridiculously high level of toxicity”.

Another reviewer, a lecturer, whinges “many male academics have left already because of lack of job security”. Career progression is, notoriously, most difficult for blokes.

And what of Glassdoor as a company itself? The site automatically aggregates the most commonly reported workplace pros and cons. The top-aggregated pro reported by Glassdoor employees is work-life balance, with the quote: “Work/life balance is strongly encouraged which is table stakes as a father with a young child”. How delightful.

But surely there are some stinging cons, written by some of the scuppered staff who were let go earlier this year when Sutherland-Wong slashed 15 per cent of Glassdoor’s workforce?

The first con listed is: “None, good work life balance, freedom”. Hmm. Not as savage as one might expect. Perhaps the company’s own door is frosted.

If you’re keen to get in on the Glassdoor gossip, be ready to spill; users have to write their own review of a workplace before they take a tour of others’ dirty laundry.

ASTUTE RECRUIT

A year-long global talent search is over, said the Future Fund Management Agency this week after Ben Samild was appointed the new chief investment officer at the $200 billion sovereign wealth fund. Described as a “veteran of the fund”, Samild joined in 2013 and has been deputy CIO since 2021. So, despite the international recruitment drive, an internal hire.

Ben Samild is the Future Fund’s new CIO.

Ben Samild is the Future Fund’s new CIO.

And a look through the contracts the FFMA has taken out with recruitment agencies since the departure of the fund’s previous CIO, Sue Brake, shows casting the net wide comes at a steep cost.

The agency has spent at least $2.2 million on recruitment agencies in the past year, most significantly on global management consulting firm and icare favourite Korn Ferry under limited tender. When quizzed on how much of that recruitment spend was dedicated to the CIO search, a spokesman for the fund simply said: “The Future Fund uses recruiters to hire skilled people who can help grow and prudently manage $250 billion of investments around the world.”

At least the man now in charge of the fund appreciates the value of a good talent scout. During his university years, while studying behavioural finance at the University of Melbourne, Samild spent weekends searching the rookie football grounds of Melbourne for the Next Big Thing as a scout for St Kilda.

And another pressing search may be on in coming months. Peter Costello’s term as the fund’s chairman is up in February. (Costello is also the chairman of Nine, publisher of this masthead.)

AI AI AI!

Last year the Herald reported on the downfall of Metigy, the artificial intelligence marketing start-up that collapsed in 2022 shortly after trying to raise $50 million from investors at a $1 billion valuation.

Administrators told the company’s creditors that the group became insolvent after chief executive David Fairfull lent his private company $7.7 million from Metigy.

Now Fairfull has fronted the Federal Court in a public examination of the company’s collapse, at which he admitted this week he used the loan to buy a $10.5 million Mosman mansion and a $7.7 million estate in the Hunter Valley.

Fairfull also said he forged bank statements and lied to investors, but insisted his co-founder Johnson Lin and chief financial officer Stephen Robinson were unaware of his deception.

Metigy’s offering was supposed to offer AI-powered marketing support to small businesses. But Robinson disclosed during the examination this week, as reported by The Australian Financial Review, “there was nothing AI about it”. That artificial intelligence left 75 former staff unemployed and $30 million owed to creditors.

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